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Archive for February, 2010

At church this weekend another “bi-national” couple (Canadian married to an American) approached me and commented on how “tensions would be running high” at their house Sunday evening and wanted to know how we were handling it at our place. I was a little puzzled. In the back of my mind I knew the USA would be playing Canada in a classic hockey battle later that day, but I was still not grasping what they were saying; until it dawned on me…oh yeah, I’m Canadian.

I was a little surprised to realize that for one of the first times I can remember the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind that I’m a Canadian. I had rooted for the American athletes all through the Olympics and it hadn’t occurred to me that this game would be any different. And why is this significant? It definitely means my “conversion” is complete. I’m now American. Why? Because we all know there is nothing more sacred to Canadians than the puck and dominance on the rink.

This reality is a sad reflection of the lack of Canadian national identity as a whole. As an expression of their inferiority complex Canadians generally tend to define themselves not by what they “are”, but what they “are not” (which mainly focuses on their desire to remind the whole world they are not Americans). Canadians love to bash Americans (done while they are sucking back Starbucks and Big Macs, listening to Beyonce, and watching reruns of American Idol).  And what makes them maddest of all? The fact that we Americans couldn’t care less. In fact we’re totally ignorant of their passive aggressive rage towards us.

There is one exception to this complex; Hockey. In this one discipline Canadians hang all their hope of being seen as dominant over their hated southern neighbors. Finally, the Americans will be forced to notice us and recognize our greatness. Well, make that two things; hockey and health care.

I’m serious. It’s sad. In my last several trips across the border random Canadians would take the first opportunity to assault me with misinformed tales of how poor the American healthcare system is compared to the Canadian “Free” healthcare (as though this was going to “put me in my place”). Seriously? First, it’s pathetic that you’re so desperate for recognition that you resort to heath Care as a trump card. Second, it’s not all that great. Third, it ain’t free sweetheart. The next time you’re at the mall just glance down on your receipt and find a line called “sales tax”. That’s right, you just paid at least $7.50 in taxes on a $50 pair of jeans; and that’s just your first purchase of the day. Don’t even get me started on liquor, gambling, weed and all the other government schemes to tax and perpetuate your addictions in order to pay for this amazing “free” healthcare. Literally, Canadians tell me “it doesn’t cost me a dime”. Hello?

One of my favorite books of all time is: “Why I Hate Canadians” by Canadian Author Will Ferguson. Will summarizes well the Canadian-American relationship:

“Our feelings towards America are complex, but they can be summed up in the five axiomatic propositions of Canadian Nationalism vis-a-vis the Americans:

1. Boy we hate Americans

2. We really do

3. Really

4. I’m not kidding, we really hate them

5. So how come they never pay us any attention?

It is a classic love/hate obsession, and it defines us in ways we can never transcend. We measure ourselves against Americans. We crave their attention and their approval, we revel in their ignorance of us, and we take masochistic glee in slights, perceived or real. It is a form of neurosis, one step away from a compulsive high school crush. We pout, flirt, throw pencils, pass notes and talk maliciously about the object of our fears and desires. And they ignore us… The problem is not that America is screwing us daily – which they are – but that they never send flowers or call afterwards. They barely remember our name.

Another Canadian author, Walter Steward, once travelled the U.S. just asking average Americans about Canada and gleefully recording American’s lack of knowledge about the subject. Ahem…Obsess much?

Hockey remains Canada’s one shot at causing the yanks to stand up and take notice. Obviously we’re not excelling in the entertainment industry in order to gain popularity. I mean, the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics was speckled with such current and relevant artists as Bryan Adams and Sarah McLaughlin.  I loved to rock out to “Summer of ’69” as much as the rest of you, but c’mon, let’s move on! The only thing sadder was not being able to resist making a joke about pronouncing the letter “z” as “zed” as opposed to the American “zee”. Really, are Canadians so devoid of cultural identity that even when given the world’s biggest stage we have to resort to the pathetic “we’re not Americans” humor? Take it from me, I may be one of only 100 people of the millions of Americans watching who even caught the reference!

And so, it all hinged on one hockey game. Let’s face it, the Americans have so far pretty much been “handing it” to Canada in every other discipline of the winter games. But if I know my countrymen, none of that would have mattered had the outcome of Sunday’s game been different. The cry would have been “sure we got killed in the medal count, but we don;t really care about that anyway. All we care about is beating the US team and winning hockey gold”. Well, guess that ship may have sailed too.

Honestly, this is the real reason I rooted for the Americans. I’m just tired of the adolescent obsession of Canadians with being perceived as “great” due to their hockey prowess. I took pleasure in the defeat, but only in hopes that it might bring my fellow Canucks to the end of themselves and abandon their childish ways. But of course, Canadians almost refuse to accept the defeat and adamantly claim superiority by blaming the loss squarely on the excellent performance of the American Goalie. Hate to break to ya guys, but it wasn’t our Goalie who scored 5 goals on you…

It’s time to accept it, Canada. You’re not the sole world power in hockey any longer, and the vast majority of Americans don’t even care about hockey anyway. It’s one of our least popular professional sports, and still we beat you. In fact, it’s totally true, most Americans don’t think about Canadians at all, even in reference to hockey.

Go ahead, just ask any American if they’ve even heard of the “Joe Canadian” beer commercials. This was one of the greatest modern Canadian rallying cries against the tyranny of American culture but you’ll be hard pressed to find any Americans who’ve even heard of it.  Until we develop some semblance of a military or change our national symbols, American disinterest will likely remain a reality. After all “The beaver, which has come to represent Canada as the eagle does the United States and the lion Britain, is a flat-tailed, slow-witted, toothy rodent known to bite off it’s own testicles or to stand under its own falling trees. (June Callwood).

So my friends, it’s time to take a deep breath, take a good long look at ourselves, and grow up. I love Canada, but it’s not for reason of hockey or healthcare. My fellow Canadians, you’re better than this sad pettiness and it’s time you realized it.

Again, Will Ferguson sums it up beautifully:

“Why should we give a tinker’s damn about how we stack up against the  U.S.? Whether our gun laws are more civilized than theirs or whether our medicare is more humane doesn’t really matter. We have nothing to gain by using the United States as our yardstick. We should be setting our standards by who we are and who we could be – not by what we aren’t. And that is the heart of the matter: we must stop defining ourselves in terms of negation…So let’s stop treating the Americans like the bogeyman…we will always be something more – and less – than American. It’s time we stopped looking, with a mix of fear and longing, across the river to that dark wooded shore” – Will Ferguson

“Canadians have been so busy explaining to the Americans that we aren’t British, and to the British that we aren’t Americans that we haven’t had time to become Canadians.” Helen Gordon McPherson

We Canadians live in a blind spot about our identity. We have very strong feelings about who we aren’t but only weak ones about who we are. We’re passionate about what we don’t want to become but oddly passive about what we should be. John Cruickshank (in McLean’s Magazine)

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Controversial Characters

I try to make sure as much as possible that the media, teaching, literature or other mediums that I ingest is godly and profitable is some form or fashion. I’m certainly not opposed to good ‘ole entertainment or reading for pleasure but I just try and make sure the balance is correct in my life. In the last couple of years I’ve seen more than ever how much the things we feed our spirits on has an affect in our lives and our ability to hear God and perceive truth. In light of that I was thinking about what I’ve been reading and watching the last couple of weeks and trying to determine what they might have in common. The only thing I could think of was “controversial characters”.

John Perkins – Economic Hit-Man

Through a series of events and relationships John Perkins ended up being recruited and tested by America’s National Security Agency. In those tests John showed certain strong moral ambiguities, character traits, and skills that made him a perfect fit for a new breed of government agent. Not that John worked directly for the government. John would work for corporations who in turn would receive grants from the US government for “projects”. John would be sent, for example, into third world countries with groups of engineers to ascertain what steps could be taken to improve the economies of these countries. This was done under a banner of humanitarian aid or consulting of sorts. So, the engineers (who were not aware of all that was going on) would look at some project such as upgrading the electrical grid of a third world country. John would then create inflated projections of the huge economic benefit and return these countries would supposedly experience from this investment in order to get the nations decision makers to “pull the trigger” on such projects. Once that was decided, guess what countries government and corporations would lend the money to, and do the work for, these countries? The good ‘ole USA.

Well, when these countries ended up not being able to pay back these massive debts we then “had them over a barrel” a could extract other concessions such as natural resources, or land for military bases around the world.  Thus the plan would reap the intended benefits.

The saddest part is that John knew this was wrong from the get go. But, the NSA had profiled him perfectly and knew John would not be able to resist the temptation of the thrills a life of adventure and “espionage” would bring. They knew how John would think to justify his actions and the moral trade offs he’d be willing to make. This book was John’s attemp at purging his conscience.

Flavius Josephus and those Maccabee boys

I’ve encountered people who have a difficult time with the idea of reading Apocryphal (or deuterocanonical) books. I think people feel that reading books that are very closely related to the actual biblical canonical writings (or actually considered canonical by some groups) might somehow lead them astray or poison the well of truth in their minds. I think nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve been rereading some of these books recently (particularly 1-4 Macabbees and their accounts of the Jewish revolts just prior to the time of Christ) and find that the commentary and context they provide for the life of Christ and the biblical accounts is invaluable. They give much insight into the life and experiences that contributes to an understanding of political and religious leaders in biblical times.

Speaking of religious leaders (pharisees, that is), in my mind, Flavius Josephus ought to be required reading for all Christians. I’ve recently been reading more of Josephus’ “Antiquities of the Jews” and “Wars of the Jews”. Fascinating stuff

Josephus was a Pharisee and also a Jewish military leader. During the Roman invasion of Judea in the first century Josephus was captured by the Romans and used as a “go between” to help the Romans communicate with the Jews. Josephus account of this during the siege of Jerusalem is incredible. His first hand account of these events reads like a novel at times and is both gripping and sad. The sufferings of the Jews in Jerusalem was horrendous. Inside the city the “commoners” were tortured and killed by their own leaders as food became scarce and famine set in. To escape the city meant almost certain death. Titus would crucify some in front of the city walls in order to terrify those left and convince them to surrender. Others he would actually let go and flee to the country side. It seems his preference was not to destroy the city.

Some of the Jews who found a way to escape without being killed as traitors by their own people, would swallow their gold items in order to take something with which to make a new life elsewhere. Unfortunately, some of the less disciplined soldiers in the Roman army would capture these Jews, gut them, and wring out their intestines to see if they were carrying gold. Not a pleasant time in history.

The siege of Jerusalem in AD 70 is such a pivotal event in history and the account of Josephus will enrich any reader.

Ron Wyatt – He May Just be Crazy

C.S. Lewis famously said about Jesus that He was either “Lord, liar, or lunatic”. Well, likewise Ron may be “prophet”, liar or lunatic. Ron is a highly controversial archaeologist who claims a number of incredible discoveries. If you want to be thoroughly fascinated, skip the movie rental tonight and simply search “Revealing God’s Treasure” on YouTube. There is a series of 4-5 videos about 40 minutes in length each which document Ron’s main adventures and discoveries. There are bunch of other videos pertaining to Ron but the “Revealing” series are the only ones taken from the professionally made documentary. I’ll embed the “Noah’s Ark” video to get you started if you are so inclined (also pictured here). My only word of advice is that you watch the “Ark of the Covenant” video last. If you watch that one first you will likely draw the “lunatic” conclusion about Ron!

For me, it’s guys like Ron that seem exactly like the type of people God would use. They’re just crazy enough to take God and the bible at his word. Whatever your conclusion, I think you’ll find these videos fascinating! I certainly did.

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Free at last, Free at last…

So here’s my photo essay of our trip to the orthopedist today for a check-up on Delaney’s fractured leg:

1. We wait anxiously for the Doctor to arrive:

2. The doctor’s assistant removes the cast with the saw:

3. Jude cowers in fear of the loud and loathsome saw. When we arrived in the exam room  he demanded that the assistant tell him if they were going to hurt his sister.

4. With cast now removed, we can see the leg in question. Amazing how much the muscles atrophy in just a few weeks! Can you see the different in muscle tone between the two?

5. We took an x-ray to make sure everything was healing up well. All looks good! The white cloudy area below the knee is where the bone has re-grown. The human body is amazing.

And so we went home and moved on with life! It will take up to a week for Delaney to regain muscle and walk/run completely normal. I’m glad that’s over. The Doctor’s assistant was telling us about one of their other recent patients who came in to have his cast removed. Afterward, on his way out to the car, he slipped on the ice and broke the same leg! Bummer.

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We named our third child Eliza simply so we could use the “Dear ‘Liza” song for everything. Very fun.

This blog post is a adventitious collection of happenings and thoughts from the Willcock realm.

The Great Escape

First, I’m serious, there is a new hole in our basement. This week we had an egress window installed in our basement. We call the room in our basement “the toy room”, but the City of Bloomington calls it a “death trap”. In order for us to be able to adopt a child we need to have another bedroom in the house, and in order to do that we need another way out of the basement so no one gets burned alive. So, in essence our new egress window is akin to some of what Christ accomplished for us at Calvary – it provides a way of escape from the flames!

Speaking of Adoption…

I love it when God gets involved in stuff. When we decided we had to put in the egress window we were figuring out how to pay for it. Well sure enough I get a call from my old band “The Sweet Colleens” asking me to come and play a few higher paying gigs with them while one of the band members is out having surgery. Not only does God provide, but he makes it fun! Love it.

Doing the kids CD release concert a couple of weeks ago was great and this full scale reunion should be an even better time.

“Let it snow”? NO thanks…

We got absolutely dumped on again this week. I shoveled my driveway three times over the course of one 24 hour period. Oooo my aching back! The shoveling wasn’t so bad, but I was kind of perturbed by the local government agencies.  I’m not an anti-government guy at all but something struck me funny. The government taxes me to get my roads plowed and in the process they bury my mailbox. Then the same government turns around and threatens to fine me because my mailbox is buried! What gives?

Isn’t this the same as if my high school forced me to buy a microscope for class and then sold me a defective one. Then the biology teacher turns around and gives me detention because I showed up to class without a working microscope? I dunno, just don’t seem right.

However, I like having my roads plowed and I like getting my mail. So I guess I’ll just take my cues from our Army Marine recruits and say: “Thank you sir, may I have another”?

An addition to my last post…

In my previous post I wrote about my favorite reasons for having kids. I’d like to add one:

#6 Cartoons – It’s great to have an excuse to watch kids movies repeatedly without feeling like a juvenile sluggard. Speaking of which, below is a scene from my most recent favorite – “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”. Mr T. cracks me up!

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Houston, we have a problem…and no solution.

Unfortunately my laptop may have met its metaphorical Waterloo. Not sure what the problem is but it’s related to the battery only charging intermittently. Slowly the battery dies and then it won’t recharge in order to start up again. When I pop a different battery in, it starts up but then experiences the same problem all over. Hopefully it’s not one of those problems that is really minor but costs so much to fix that it’s more economical to just replace it. However, as I understand our electronics industry, they actually build them so that is the case. Evil. Truly evil.

My secondary problem is that my wife is a diabolical taskmaster when it comes to those who publish electronic content. She has high expectations when it comes to frequency of blog posts. She informed me last night that I was “letting down my readership” (which actually only consist of her, I believe) by going a few days without a post. So, since my laptop is kaput (and therefore my computer time limited) I only throw out a quick list I developed in my head today and I’ll call it at that. Here we go:

Dave’s Personal Top Five Reasons to Have Children (AKA: Is it really worth it?):

5. Baby wipes – those things are incredible. Not only stellar at performing their primary function (the cleansing of the derriere) but useful for a host of other applications. Wiping down all kinds of surfaces, dashboards, counter-tops, computer screens, cleaning light stains out of fabric, blowing noses without irritation, windows, you name it. Not to mention they’re like some kind of toddler cat-nip. Leave a box of wipes out and they head right to it, pull them all out and roll around in the pile rubbing themselves all over. This is brilliant. Got a kid covered in pizza sauce? Just let them down from the table and throw a box of wipes out on the floor. Problem solved. A pre-moistened towelette is endlessly useful, but purchasing baby wipes when you have no baby seems a little odd at the drugstore, so it makes the list.

4. Excuses, Excuses – A baby can get you out of anything. People you dislike inviting you over, uninspired sermons, guests over-staying their welcome, work, meetings, or cleaning the house. The needs and demands of your child are a perfect and unquestioned way to excuse yourself from any undesirable situation.

3. Character development– you’re much more evil than you ever imagined. You got a roommate or worked closely with a team; the ensuing conflicts and intimate interactions forced you to confront your (and everyone else’s) imperfections. Next, you got married and you could no longer hide anything about yourself. You discovered how truly selfish, self-centered, and broken you were under the harsh lighting of intimacy. Then you had kids. Nothing prepares you for this. You knew you were a little bit messed up before, but now along comes this doe-eyed, curly-haired cherub that makes all the worst of your character flaws overflow in a monstrous boiling confluence of selfishness, rage, controlling spirits, and downright meanness. Some may see this as a negative, but since God works through it for purification, I embrace it with masochistic madness. If you want to give God more tools to sanctify you, just have kids. On the flip side, if you want to experience more love, have more kids. Much like the Grinch (whose “heart grew three sizes that day”), it’s like with every kid you experience an increased capacity for love. More kids = more crucifixion of the flesh = more capacity to love.

2. Laughter – a whole new source of joy. I’m a guy who loves to make jokes and laugh, but kids are truly nature’s comic relief. Every day when they just stare at you with that stupid, crazed, sugar-intoxicated look on their chubby faces you can’t help but laugh. Then they do and say the goofiest stuff that brings a whole new level of joy and unexpected laughter into your daily life. When you’re angry, frustrated, or depressed they seem to have the comedic timing pre-programed into them that makes them do something on perfect cue to break you out of your funk and chuckle those blues away.

1. Return on investment. There’s so many things we do in our lives that seem to be completely void of any eternal value. It’s just doing for the sake of doing, or succumbing to the spirit of the age as we fill our homes and lives with the trophies of materialism and self-gratification; but having kids is not so. I’m sure some people have kids for weird self-serving reasons (think: octo-mom), but for most of us raising children may be the most selfless, altruistic, and thankless act of service in our lives. But much more than that, we have followed God’s command to “be fruitful and  multiply” and brought forth a human being into the world that will live eternally to serve and bring praise to God in glory. A few years of work earns a return of worship and offering before the Lord that will continue on forever. How awesome is that? He is so worthy of it all.

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The Willcocks in Wonderland

“It would be so nice if something made sense for a change…” (Alice – Alice in Wonderland)

Isa 42:16  And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.

It was one of those conversations that unfolded so ordinary and plain; like we were talking about preparing our annual tax return. In actuality it carried eternal implications.

Vicki: Do you think we should do something for the Haiti relief efforts?

Dave: Ya, for sure.

Vicki: What should we do?

Dave: Well I suppose we could give some money to CRI or to whatever Randy Bohlender is doing.

Vicki: Ya, I really think we need to do something, especially related to the orphans….(pause)…do you think you would adopt one?

Dave: Absolutely.

End of conversation. Very short and simple, but with words that carried an abnormal weight. Something palpable had definitely changed. This wasn’t just a theoretical discussion. God was confirming what has been in both of our hearts for some time.

Hos 14:3   “…In you the orphan finds mercy.”

I remember the first time I really felt the heart of God for the orphan. I was working at an inner-city ministry in downtown Minneapolis and got in my car to run an errand. As I was making my way into the heart of downtown I heard a heart wrenching story on the radio. A drug addicted woman had given birth and the baby was missing. They eventually ascertained that she had thrown the baby into a dumpster after the birth and now a frantic search was underway to find it in time. Sure enough, the search area was the neighborhood I was driving in. I passed several police vehicles and saw officers who were engaged in the rescue mission.

My heart broke for this defenseless and abandoned little one who was never given the chance at life. I simply could not keep going about my business and I pulled over immediately. I jumped out of the car and headed down the closest alley I could find. I began searching in the semi-darkness around every dumpster, garbage bag, abandoned couch and lawn chair, and as I did, I felt in my heart the weight and the anguish of the father heart of God for this unwanted infant. I found myself crying intensely as I continued my meager solo search efforts. Then, as the minutes continued to pass a resolve came into my heart that I know did not originate with me. In an instant and without hesitation I made the promise before the Lord, “if I find this baby, I’ll tell them I want it”.

Psalms 10:17-18  O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed…”

Well, I didn’t find the baby and I don’t know if anyone ever did. But on that day I felt my heart was marked by the Lord. It wasn’t even something I necessarily welcomed. I don’t perceive myself to be the kind of man who has a heart big enough for the task of loving the orphan.  But, thank God He doesn’t expect us to accomplish anything in our own strength. These are His children, and He will pour out His inexhaustible resources into the  hearts of those who are willing and available to love.

These days it seems the Lord is directing my life to many unknown destinations; places that are not at all familiar. All I can do is follow one step at a time. For us as a family, that means making ourselves “legally available” as adoptive or foster parents. Where it goes from here? Who knows…

James 1:27  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

The most miraculous thing about scripture is that the more your spirit ingests it, the more its most outrageous and impossible demands become the passions of your heart.

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